47 answers

Keeping up with the Jones's

Does anyone else experience the pressure from other women who live out of their means just to keep up with the friends and neighbors around them,....? I've got an average life, average house, average vehicle, Etc. I'm paying my bills on time, and have very little cc debt. There are people in my life who comment if I have on shoes from target. A friend of mine of 8 years walks into a room with a new louis vitton or coach handbag every month, and flaunts it even though I know she doesn't have the money to buy those things. She pays her cell phone bill, and car payment with credit cards sometimes. I feel like I get caught up in it sometimes because honestly there is pressure to have the next best thing. Most of my concern is with my young children. What are we teaching them if they're going to be made fun of if they don't have the newest gadgets, cell phones, clothes. I want to feel normal, and I want my innocent kids to stay innocent and enjoy life without the pressure to have it all and look beautiful doing it.
I guess what I am looking for here is whether any of you have ways of dealing with friends, neighbors, co-workers who lead you to believe they have it all, and you're left with the snubs because you don't.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

"Debt free is the way to be!" is what I tell them. I don't have trouble sleeping at night wondering how all the bills will be paid. There will always be people who have more than I do, and some will want to lord it over me, but they can't bother me with it if I don't let them.

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I think that teaching your children that they don't have to have the latest fad or cool thing to be content is the best gift you can give them. We live in such a consumer society and there is so much pressure, but good for you for having low debt and in general being content with what you have.

In my own life I have purposefully surrounded myself with friends and a community that either have access to less than me (including refugees), or intentionally choose to live a simpler lifestyle. It keeps me in check, and gives me perspective. For example, do I really need a $100 pair of shoes when someone I know can barely afford their $500 a month rent?

And remember, that fancy car or purse... they don't own it. It owns them.

AND Target ROCKS. :)

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I grew up in a very upper middle class to lower high class neighborhood. Some kids in my high school drove to school in BMWs and Mercedes. At the time, I was lucky and had a great group of friends from diverse income levels and was never criticized for wearing less than name brand clothing. I can really understand the pressure to keep up with them, though, even as an adult. However, now I just feel sad for people who waste their money on silly possessions. Now, it just seems so self-centered. Seriously, you need a $500 purse when a $100 one would allow you to donate the other $400 to people in need right now? Or that $400 could go to their children's college funds.

Your children may come out of this all right. They're growing up coming out of a major recession and frivilous spending is frowned upon. Just raise them with strong values and hopefully they will select friends with similar values.

Honestly, if someone criticized my shoes from Target, I would just respond flatly that I live within my means and like the shoes, so why does she care? At the same time, I'd be wondering why I considered this person a friend.

7 moms found this helpful

Wow, if you are actually feeling snubbed I might look for a different group of friends.

I have felt some internal pressure to "keep up w/ the jones'" but it helps me to focus on our goals. I mean their goal might be to have a flashy car or accessories, my goal is to spend more time together as a family and to live debt free (other than our mortgage, which we plan to pay off in 20 years). I could have flashy things too, if I wanted to go into debt or work long hours.

I'm glad I have friends like me who are unashamed to hit the clearance rack at Target or even go thrift store shopping. I do have some friends with designer duds but I don't feel like they look down on those who don't have them.

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Remember in the end you will be able to retire without debt and when you are ready. I have friends who are in their mid forties who added a very expensive addition to their house. Would I like a bigger house maybe but I do not want the bills to go with it at 46. It is nice to know that I am debt free and have peace of mind. Recently I had to quit work for family and medical reasons and we are able to do it because we did not live beyond our means. When someone comments on the size of my house I just take pride in the fact that we own this house and have no mortage payments. I am happy that we were able to send our daughter to the private highschool that she wanted to go to and that we have money put aside for our daughters college. All this is more important then where my shoes came from or what brand purse I have. Sometimes you just have to remind yourself what is really important and to me it is providing for my children and being debt free.

3 moms found this helpful

We live in an affluent area (loved the affluenza comment by another mom, BTW), and the keeping-up mentality is everywhere.

Before getting laid off last May, I was really surrounded by it. I had one business partner who only shopped at Banana (Republic), Ann Taylor and Nordstrom. She was the most self-absorbed person I've ever met. We didn't do well as partners.
Though my salary took a hit (didn't think it was responsible to turn town a reasonable job offer in this economy), I really prefer the people I work with now. They're very down to earth, and I believe they'd have my back 100% if I ever needed it.

My husband I were talking the other day about how our kids still play with all the old stand-by's that kids have enjoyed for ages - coloring supplies, bats/balls, bikes, dolls, sand boxes, etc.

Our kids are mostly dressed from Target, Kohl's, Children's Place/Old Navy (because their sales rock). I've only purchased 1 item in 4 years from Gymboree.

I'd rather focus our energies on teaching our kids, making them decent people and respecting what they have than indulging them. We focus on making sure they have college funds secured. We're going to take our first vacation in 5 years later this year and are sharing the cost with friends. We use the library for lots of books, movies, music.

If you surround yourself with people like you, I think it's easier to keep your focus from shifting on the people you're less like.
If people snub me, I do take it personally, but at the end of the day, I've learned so many more of life's lessons in a short time, I don't have time to waste on people who don't have the same values as us.

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Hi H.,
That is certainly been a problem since we live in very affluent area (where most people have "affluenza!) Most kids here get more stuff in their Easter Baskets than we give ours at Christmas. We have just told them over the years that we do things differently. My boys are teenagers now and they can see with some of their friends that getting everything you ask for has not been a good thing. What we are teaching them is how to properly manage money and live responsibly. We are also building character.

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Wait a minute...Are there people out there that say Target is not cool or low rent?! A pox on them. Target rocks. =)

Girl -- You are not alone. I think my biggest pain points (and truly, I consider it my problem) are:

1.) My friends that somehow afford super expensive salon stuff (cuts, color, mani/pedis, product). I sometimes want to just shave my head because I certainly could never ever justify spending that kind of cash on something so...so...transitory and ultimately useless.

2.) Kitchens -- I would love love love granite counters and high-end flooring and stainless appliances. Just not going to happen so I just have to grin and bear it when it is our turn to host.

3 moms found this helpful

One thing to remember is that the people (mostly women) who do this are insecure in some way or another and want to appear as though they are higher and mightier. In fact, they "appear" as insecure as they really are because you know they are drowning in debt.

A sad part is that they probably don't have retirement and college savings funded which is wrong.

I am very fortunate to live a life of my dreams but we have worked very hard for what we have and we do not go into debt . We are most proud that we are fully funded on our retirement and our daughter's college. Delayed gratification is difficult for many to understand but for the ones who do understand it.....rewards are wonderful. We are blessed...... It is funny, people tell us now "you are so lucky" ......NO, WE ARE NOT LUCKY...... We just planned and used our brains.

Things even out in the long run.

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